WHIPPANY, N.J., July 20 - The arrest of real estate developer Charles Kushner and charges of lurid acts brought by the state's United States attorney have sent waves of shock and dismay through New Jersey's Jewish community, where Kushner has long been a leading philanthropist.
Members of organizations on whose boards Kushner
sits expressed their gratitude to the Livingston resident for his
generosity to their agencies and their support for his
extended family.Otherwise they encouraged observers to allow the legal system to work its course.
In synagogues with connections to the Kushner
family and at other centers of Jewish life, individuals similarly emphasized that Kushner had been charged, not convicted.Yet most expressed concern about the negative publicity surrounding so visible a member of the Jewish community. Kushner, 50, CEO of Kushner Companies of Florham Park, was charged on July 13 by a U.S. attorney, Christopher Christie, with conspiracy, obstructing a federal investigation into his finances and political contributions, and interstate promotion of prostitution.
One witness rejected a call girl's advances; the other did not and Kushner
is charged with arranging for a secretly made videotape of the encounter to be sent to the witness's wife.
is one of the most respected business leaders in the community and widely known as a very generous philanthropist," Brafman said in a statement last week.
is confident that once the facts are fully disclosed in a courtroom, he
will be completely exonerated."
According to the Kushner Companies'
Web site, the far-flung business owns and manages more than 24,000 apartment units and has a commercial portfolio consisting of 7.5 million square feet of office space.The Israeli business newspaper Globes reported that Kushner is no longer a bidder for a controlling interest in Israel's Discount Bank, which the Israeli government is privatizing.
Globes reported that the deadline for applications was July 20. Kushner
is a top fund-raiser for the Democratic Party, having contributed heavily to campaigns of New Jersey Gov
On June 30, Kushner
agreed to pay a civil penalty of $508,900 to settle Federal Election Commission charges that he
made political contributions through various business partners "without obtaining the agreement of the individual partners to whom the contributions were attributed."
In agreeing to pay the fines, Kushner
insisted that he
did not violate any FEC regulations.Corzine was required to return $50,000 in contributions as a result of the FEC findings but said last week that he
will return an additional $38,000 in contributions from Kushner
"just to be conservative," a spokesman for the senator said.
Christie was careful on the day of Kushner
's arrest to emphasize that the charge against Kushner was not related to McGreevey.
serves on the boards of several New Jersey Jewish organizations, including the United Jewish Communities of MetroWest New Jersey, the Rabbinical College of America
in Morristown, the Daughters of Israel geriatric center in West Orange, and the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy
in Livingston which he
founded and named in honor of his
father, a Holocaust survivor who started the family's real estate business.Kushner, who also sits on the boards of the Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University and Touro College, both in New York, was appointed by former President Bill Clinton to serve on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council in Washington, D.C.
...Kushner's mother, Rae Kushner, who died in March, was a long-time supporter of the Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey, but Charles Kushner, who lives outside the federation's catchment area, is not a donor to the Central federation, according to its executive vice president, Stanley Stone.
...Charles Kushner is also a member of the boards of the Jewish Educational Center in Elizabeth and the YM-YWHA of Union County in Union.
is a very important part of the school.He's
been wonderful to this institution.He's
the largest donor."
A parent with children at Kushner Yeshiva High School
, who asked not to be named, said that if, indeed, Kushner
did what he
is accused of doing, "it's awful."
"It's awful for the people around him," the parent said."It's awful for the children."
The parent also said that the use of photographs of Kushner
wearing a yarmulke, which appeared in some newspapers, was objectionable.
In the case of Kushner
, some organizations felt it was too soon to focus on anything more than Kushner's philanthropy. "Charlie has done a lot of good here for the Rabbinical College and for other institutions," said Rabbi Moshe Herson, dean of the Rabbinical College of America, which trains rabbis and scholars for the Chabad-Lubavitch Chasidic movement.
Members of the heavily Orthodox Jewish community in Elizabeth, where Kushner
grew up and where his
father founded what would become the family real estate business, said that Kushner's arrest was a subject of intense conversation.
is not just a prominent person in the news for unfortunate reasons, but because he
is so much a leader of the community."